Amnesty International is suspending its operations in India after New Delhi froze its bank accounts following the human rights group’s criticism of Narendra Modi’s government.
The Enforcement Directorate, an agency set up to investigate economic crimes, froze the bank accounts of Amnesty’s Indian arm on September 10, weeks after the group published two reports highly critical of the government’s human rights record.
Amnesty said the freezing of its bank accounts was the culmination of a two-year campaign of harassment by India’s home affairs ministry, the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate.
The human rights group said it was forced to halt its work and lay off its 140 Indian staff members. “For a movement that has done nothing but raise its voices against injustice, this latest attack is akin to freezing dissent,” said Avinash Kumar, executive director of Amnesty International India.
However, India’s home ministry countered that Amnesty’s local arm had engaged in “illegal practices” by circumventing New Delhi’s ban on its receipt of funds from overseas.